Who’s who in the AI zoo?

Teach a man to fish.  The old adage holds that if you give a man a fish you’ll feed him for a day but if you teach a man to fish you’ll feed him for a lifetime.  Researchers from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and University of Florence have a new spin on the old saying … build a robot fish to tend to real fish and there will be more fish for everybody.  Science Daily is reporting on a “New Robotic Fish for Environmental Monitoring  Given that aquaculture furnishes about half of the seafood eaten the researchers wanted to create a environmental testing tool to ensure that the farm raised fish, crustaceans, etc live in clean, healthy water.  So, why a robot fish instead of more traditional monitoring probes?  “In order to minimize the inconveniences and possible stress in fish, the developed robot is bio-mimetic, that is, that mimics both its appearance and its functioning.”  One suspects that it’s also a lot more fun to build robotic fish than monitoring probes.

Pass the Cheetos.  Chester the Cheetah now has some competition.  Science Daily is reporting that engineers at The University of Twente have created a robotic cheetah.  Geert Folkertsma has dedicated four years of research and development to constructing a scaled-down robotic version of the fastest land animal in the world, with a view to replicating its movements.  Geert explained his interest in CyberChester by saying, “My robot vacuum cleaner, for example, cannot climb stairs or even cope with thresholds. We therefore need to develop robots that can walk and when it comes to moving around efficiently, there’s a lot we can learn from the cheetah.”  Hmmm, true ‘dat, Geert.  Although it’s early in the development cycle the mini-cheetah operates more like a mechanical sloth than the fastest mammal on Earth.  It runs at one kilometer per hour.  At that rate the mechanical cheetah would need about 1.25 years to walk back to its ancestral home in Africa from its birthplace in Enschede, Netherlands.    For now, the wildebeests migrating across the Serengeti Plain will be safe from robo-Cheetah.


Donald J. Rippert

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